Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tips for World Read Aloud Day

March 6 is World Read Aloud Day, an initiative of Lit World. In honor of literacy, I asked two Annick picture book authors to share their thoughts on what makes a good read-aloud book and why reading aloud with your kids (or someone anyone's kids!) is important.

Hazel Hutchins, who has a picture book (What the Snakes Wrote) and two board books (Cat Comes Too and Dog Comes Too) coming out this season, has this to say:

photo (c) Gaston Maqueda
Reading aloud is such a simple act and yet it's a wonderful gift to give a child or group of children. Wrapped up with the joy of story is the cadence of language, the organization of ideas, the flow of narrative, the expansion of vocabulary (all those words one skips over when not quite sure what they are--even as an adult!) and the exposure to ideas they may or may not choose to read about on their own. The kids don't need to know that of course. They'll just take what they can in their own way.

Once a child is used to being read to, all kinds of stories are possible. If you are just beginning, however, here are some quick guidelines: 
  • Picture books: a story in which the child can actively participate, engaging illustrations, lively language, repetition, action and humor.
  • Chapter books: a story that immediately draws the child into the world of the young hero or heroine, a mix of dialogue/action/description and chapters that end with cliffhangers (which don't need to be scary--a puzzle or mystery works just as well).
Sarah Tsiang, who writes poetry for adults and has published three picture books with Annick (The Stone Hatchlings, Dogs Don't Eat Jam, A Flock of Shoes), wrote about reading to children for Open Book Toronto: click here to read "Don't Teach Your Kids to Read." She also shares: "As for what makes a good read aloud book, I would say anything that trips off the tongue and feels natural in your mouth. Anything that makes you smile as you read it. A good read aloud picture book dances with you."

What book will you be reading aloud today?

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